Two weeks into my sophomore year in university I decided to meet up with an old friend from freshman year. She was a Muslim from Kuwait and a very interesting person to talk to considering her background. We were discussing various topics and came across the theory of evolution since she was now taking the same biology class as the one I had taken during my freshman year. She is very much into science so I decided to ask her opinion on the theory of evolution. Her response wasn’t very positive. I first I was surprised, but then I remembered I had learned the previous year that the Muslim world frowns upon the idea of evolution. I also learned that teaching evolution in the Middle East varies by state and is usually combined with creationist beliefs for the explanation of the origin of the universe. I am fan of evolution, but the conversation reminded me just how the Arab world is similar to the USA since there is a problem here with teaching evolution and God in public schools. Questions arise asking whether God should be taught alongside evolution, should we even teach evolution to our children, or does God even belong inside the classroom? Read more
Oftentimes I feel as though the views of the Republican Party are not properly characterized in campus discourse. Today I’d like to briefly summarize four oft-ignored perspectives on the Republican economic agenda, which isn’t as scary as it is usually portrayed in campus debate.
First and foremost, the Republican Party is not a party that only cares about rich people. Republicans want everyone to have a good-paying job that provides for his or her family. Many Republicans come from humble beginnings and humble backgrounds. Many were immigrants who came to this country with nothing but a dream. They know what it is to face hard times, and are not callous to the difficult circumstances in which many impoverished people find themselves.
In short, Republicans do not differ with Democrats at all in terms of empathy. Rather, they differ in their beliefs regarding the means by which to help the poorest among us. I think it’s safe to say Republicans have more faith in the power of free markets than the Democratic Party. Republicans would argue that free markets, unencumbered by unnecessary government regulation, allow for the greatest growth in prosperity for all. Read more
“Why should I respect a Republican or Democrat’s political views on campus when he or she draws conclusions completely contrary to my own?” Some of us at Duke answer this question with, “I shouldn’t have to. If my opponent is wrong, then there is simply no reason to respect what I deem to be conclusively wrong.”
These individuals operate in a world of black-and-white policy answers. But it surprises me, at a school that arguably teaches one of the best liberal arts curricula in our country, with hundreds of professors teaching and debating conflicting ideas with one another every day, that any Duke University student can come away from his or her studies passionately believing that he or she has found definitively right answers to America’s policy problems at the humble age of 22. These students are paying $60,000 a year to ignore the prying hands of a Duke education that is desperately trying to open their minds. Read more
I recently had a conversation with an Australian student in which neither of us knew what the other was saying. We were both speaking English, but it was probably the most unproductive conversation you can imagine.
We were ostensibly discussing the merits of the liberal commitment to supporting the welfare state. It was one of those moments I was looking forward to while signing up for the Duke in Oxford program; here was my chance, I thought, to attain enlightenment in an oak paneled room while discussing a subject whose pretension matched that of my environment. And with a foreigner!
But it was not to be. I became increasingly confused because he said there was no commitment at all – liberals are only concerned with supporting the free market. I tried explaining that liberals generally favor expanding the welfare state and otherwise checking the unregulated market. After several minutes of fruitless efforts we decided to change the subject. Read more
Popular topics for political discussions all revolve the question of choice. People are happier when given more options in their decision making but laws still have to be set in order to prevent people from harming each other. The price, however, of living in a nation that allows the beliefs of different cultures and religions to exist is that we often have clashes over what we believe is best and lawful for our citizens. Recently, my home state of Texas signed into law a bill that prevents a woman from having an abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Whenever I was asked the question whether I approve of that law my only response was “I don’t know.” Unfortunately, my response when it comes to whether abortion should be legal or not is still being formed. Read more
We have all been seeing for years now the arguments put forward by some that President Barack Obama was ineligible to run for President because he was not a "natural born citizen" as his father was from Kenya. Despite Hawaii finally giving over a copy of the long form of Obama's birth certificate, and the repeated refusal of courts to entertain the issue, many are still making the same, tired arguments. Well, we have a debunking of that argument in the form of an Obama opponent who was born in Canada, holds dual citizenship due to Canadian law, and one parent who was not a US citizen at the time of his birth. That person? None other than Tea Party favorite and ultra conservative politician from Texas, Senator Ted Cruz. Read more
Mickey Edwards steals a page from those early Progressives who believed the cure for democracy was more democracy. Joining a long list of Republican "reformers" who are trying mightily to help the GOP avoid a rendevous with hostile demographics, the one-time Oklahoma Congressman wants to scrap the two-party system altogether in favor of a more participatory "nonpartisan" democracy able to govern itself without party labels.
It's an appealing vision of a restored "civic republicanism" that Edwards offers in his latest book, The Parties Versus the People: How to Turn Republicans and Democrats into Americans. Appealing to me, at any rate, because it reflects my own belief that it is far more important how a party or a country thinks than what it thinks - since, as Edwards says, "democracy is not about policy but about process" and "how we select our leaders, how we deliberate, how we decide" are what really determine whether Americans are fit for self-government. Read more
It seems puzzling that Harvard University would grant tenure, let alone appoint someone to be the chairman of its economics department, who fundamentally doesn't believe in economics. But there it is, all spelled out in a much talked about new paper, "Defending the One Percent," by Harvard economics professor and former Mitt Romney advisor, N. Gregory Mankiw, in the June issue of the Journal of Economic Perspectives.
After summarily dispensing with the arguments offered by those on "the left" for greater income equality, specifically those of Joseph Stiglitz who condemns today's yawning wage gap as not only unjust and obscene but economically inefficient as well, Mankiw concludes his 25-page apologia for the bulging portfolios of today's plutocrats by asserting that taxing the wealthy to support socially useful purposes is just plain "wrong." Read more
Ok. Snowden is on the run.
“It’s espionage!” “He’s a traitor!!”.
Yeegads. All for telling us that our government is listening to us and wants to listen to the globe.
“We have warrants!” shouts Obama,
And then in a whisper “from that secret FISA Court” that nobody knows anything about because it’s a secret. National security you know.
Google moved today for a declaratory judgement in Federal Court (the REAL court!) to be allowed to disclose the warrants it received from the NSA through the FISA Court (not to be taken as an admission that there are any warrants of course - they are secret), arguing that it’s business has been irreparably damaged.
Now suppose the security state can’t catch Snowden? Suppose he gets asylum? How would you feel if Obama put him on the drone list over a Tuesday afternoon coffee at the White House?
Nah. Of course he wouldn’t. Would he? He can. Maybe after getting a secret warrant from FISA Court so it’s all nice and legal. Read more
The old saying goes: It's important to keep your friends close, but your enemies closer. Keeping this in mind, a few weeks ago I joined a Tea Party community undercover. I rarely post there, I'm too afraid too, what I've found is that they're a suspicious bunch and if I don't agree with their beliefs, I'd be labeled a "troll" and possibly get myself banned. Well, I am a troll, but just a "lurking troll"... like I said, I rarely post and when I do, I make sure that it's something I've come across on the site and share it... Staying undercover by blending in.
Can I say that the Tea Party scare the crap out of me?! I've learned several things about them. Most, not all, but most of them are religious fanatics. Quite a few of them home school their kids and college?... forget that, they feel that school and college introduce liberal ideas to their children. The irony in all of this is their poor use of grammar and spelling mistakes. Be prepared to be become dumb if they ever gain control. Read more
Americans most generally have a great sense of pride for their country, because they believe in what it stands for and the principles it was founded on.
Over our nation’s history, America has had many voices speak out, though in protest or by petition, from many segments of its population, thanks to the strong civil liberties we all inherit by being citizens of this great country. Most of those voices came from minorities, protesting their rights to equality. Some came from religious groups and anti-abortion groups, and some groups have tried imposing their will on all of us by changing our laws to reflect their own beliefs.
Much of the battles for civil rights, from the Emancipation of slavery to the fight for gay rights, women’s rights and other civil rights movements of today, have molded this nation into what it has become. We have grown enlightened but at a somewhat slower pace than many of our European allies. Then of course, some of the countries that we have fought wars in are far behind us when it comes to women’s rights, gay rights, and civil rights in general. Read more
I know a police officer who is very socially conservative. He’s a Baptist who believes that homosexuality is wrong, as most evangelical do, if not all. We had the usual discussion about gay people and he expressed his disapproval as a Christian. One day I asked him a question, and knowing how he believed, I was surprised by his answer.
He and his wife had a newborn son and I asked him what he would do if his son turned out gay. He told me that he would still love him and accept him for whatever he was — not the answer I expected.
When a child, at whatever age, tells a parent they’re gay, the parent will deal with it in either a positive way or a negative way. When I told my mother, she chose to deny it by telling me it was just a phase I was going through. When she finally could no longer deny it, she reacted negatively by telling me “you need to get right with God”.
On the other hand, a friend of mine who was gay, told his mother he was gay, and though she cried, she told him that she wanted him to be proud of who he was and never be ashamed, she loved him just the same. It affected him in such a positive way and it showed in his life. Read more
The Mormon Church took an unprecedented step toward accepting gay people recently and though it is a positive move, it does not go far enough.
The church opened a website: mormonsandgays.org , which seems to be an attempt to reach out to Mormon gays and the gay community at large. The website’s official statement states:
“The experience of same-sex attraction is a complex reality for many people. The attraction itself is not a sin, but acting on it is. Even though individuals do not choose to have such attractions, they do choose how to respond to them. With love and understanding, the Church reaches out to all God’s children, including our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters.”
I am glad that the Mormon Church has accepted the fact that gay people are born the way they are, which is a step in the right direction. What they do not seem to grasp, the same as Evangelicals and even Catholics do not grasp, is that gay people are not going to choose to live a life of celibacy because of whom they are. Read more
It’s Sunday November 18th! Do you know where your podcast is? On this day in history back in 1978, Peoples Temple founder Jim Jones led hundreds of his followers in a mass murder-suicide in the South American country of Guyana. Now, we might be paraphrasing just a bit, but we’re pretty sure there’s a passage in the Bible that reads, “It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man…especially one that is instructing you to inject your child with cyanide-laced grape-flavored Flavor Aid soft drink.”
Like crows, maybe that’s why we call a flock of believers a murder. Because all too often (e.g. most wars, witch-hunts, ethnic cleansings, honor killings, human sacrifices, suicide bombings, indigenous peoples annihilation, The Crusades, The Inquisition, The Thirty Years’ War, The Holocaust, Islamic Jihad, 9/11 and The Norwegian Massacre - just to name a few examples), that’s exactly what believers do. We hear it all the time. The people who commit heinous crimes like the ones you’ve mentioned aren’t true believers. They’re false believers. Their perverted versions of Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, (insert any religion here) aren’t real religions. They’re cults. Read more
It’s Sunday October 28th! Do you know where your podcast is? On this day in history back in 1919, Congress passed the Volstead Act providing the enforcement of Prohibition which became the law of the land with the 18th Amendment to The U.S. Constitution. If you’re not sure why Prohibition didn’t work, open a history book and take your pick from the myriad of reasons. We’re looking at you, organized crime. And speaking of reason, it’s never a good reason to legislate religious beliefs. If you’re not sure why legislating religious beliefs doesn’t work, open a history book and take your pick from the myriad of options.
We’re looking at you, Prohibition. And speaking of options, it’s nice to have them. Who wouldn’t want to have choices when it comes to life’s big decisions? If you’re not sure why limiting choice doesn’t work, open a history book and take your pick from the myriad of examples. We’re looking at you, back-alley abortions. In this country (and by extension this world), one size certainly does not fit all. Read more